White text on black background: The pandemic has affected everyone differently. We asked Ona, a DeafBlind DBCAN user, how she has handled new challenges.
Ona is standing in front of a light blue wall, she is a white woman with short hair and red-rimmed glasses, wearing a navy blue shirt.
Hello. My name is Ona Stewart, and I am Deaf and legally blind. DBCAN has asked me to come and talk about my experience with the Coronavirus pandemic.
Text slide: During the spring with the COVID-19 crisis, what challenges did you experience as a DeafBlind person?
When it first happened I was shocked and very confused. All had been going normally until March 15, when I saw the big announcement on the news. I quickly sent an email to my boss, who responded by explaining the situation, and that it would be safer for me to stay home.
Text slide: How did you manage your essential shopping and medical needs?
Later in March I realized I needed to go food shopping. I used Facebook and email to reach out to people who might volunteer to help. I was able to find someone, and they drove me to Market Basket, where I like to go, very early, at 7 in the morning. Once there I noticed that many products, like toilet paper, were out of stock. I’d never seen anything like it!
Since then I’ve done different types of things, like going shopping together, or giving someone my list for them to shop for me and paying them for the food later, or even getting a guide to go to the bank with me, and more recently to get a haircut.
Sometime around April or May I first started hearing about safety recommendations like wearing a mask and washing your hands with soap or sanitizer. A friend explained to me the importance of washing my hands after going food shopping with them, so that I wouldn’t get sick. It’s interesting, some providers I work with have different comfort levels. One doesn’t mind that I sit in the passenger seat, but another told me to sit in the back of their car.
I haven’t had many issues with food shopping. I’ve noticed some stores are more crowded and have much longer lines than others. Market Basket is a lot more crowded than Stop and Shop or Star Market. I try different ones to find the best option.
Like I said, DBCAN providers have different comfort levels. Some providers prefer to stay home, while others will go out to work as long as we are both wearing masks. It’s important to respect everyone’s decisions about working or not.
Text slide: Now it looks like Coronavirus will last for a long time. What are your plans for the future if the virus doesn’t go away soon?
I hope Coronavirus doesn’t last very long. I’m constantly watching the news on TV to see what’s going on. I keep track of the cases going up or down, and was disappointed to see them going up again. But I have a good support network. I ask friends for help when needed. I even bought masks from a friend who was making them.
I have Zoom meetings with my boss and we use the chat to communicate. Recently he asked me if I was comfortable going back to work in July, but I was too nervous. I would have to take public transportation, and it’s hard to maintain social distancing as a DeafBlind person, I could easily bump into someone, and I would have to use touch to find my way around. After some negotiation he agreed that I could wait until September to go back to work. I pray to God the cases decrease by then.
Take care of yourself everyone! Have a good one!
White text on black background: The pandemic has affected everyone differently. We asked Brian, a DeafBlind DBCAN user, how he has handled new challenges.
Brian is sitting in front of a dark blue wall. He is a white man, wearing glasses, a mask under his chin, and a blue shirt under a neon orange vest.
My name is Brian Copolla, I live in Methuen Massachusetts, I'm hard of hearing and legally blind. I just communicate by voice and I use hearing aids.
Text slide: During the spring and COVID-19 pandemic, what challenges did you experience as a DeafBlind person?
It's been...rather tough... being able to handle this by myself because my sister Susan has had to take care of my mother too. I experienced some challenges trying to keep social distance. That's why I kept my mask on because I knew it was going to be impossible to keep social distance being legally blind.
Text slide: How did you manage your essential needs like food shopping and medical needs?
Okay, during the quarantine, my provider went and got some of the shopping for me at a Shaws in Melrose, and he brought it to me and what I would do is pay him. Some of the stuff he couldn't get for me so what I would do is get on the bus and go to Market Basket near my house and get it for myself. And I did the same thing with my medicines.
Text slide: Do you have any suggestions for DBCAN consumers and providers to work together, safely?
What they should do to work together safely is mask, testing, and if they are uncomfortable with something, psychotherapy.
Text slide: Thank you Brian!
Robbie: Hello! We have exciting news to share with all of you! We will offer a unique class this fall! What is the class? Want a hint?
Elvira: (in RSL) Hello! My name is Elvira and I will teach RSL.
Robbie: Do you know what she signed? Many hearing people think sign language is universal. However, there are many different sign languages around the world.
Elvira (RSL) Robbie (ASL): Hello, Happy, Mother, Dog, Class.
Robbie: Elvira just taught you Russian Sign Language (RSL). She will be our RSL teacher this fall. There will be 15 seats. The class will fill fast so grab your seat as soon as possible!
Elvira: See you this fall! Come learn RSL! It will be fun!
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